By Paul T. Choate
Oct. 24, 2012. An Appalachian State University Faculty Grievance Hearing Committee has sided with sociology professor Jammie Price that due process and her academic freedom was violated by the university. The committee ruling comes in the wake of the tenured professor of eight years being put on leave in March after four students complained about her “inappropriate speech and conduct in the classroom,” including showing a movie about pornography.
“A majority of the voting members of the Committee find the Respondents’ placement of Professor Price on administrative leave with pay a violation of her rights to due process and academic freedom,” said the committee’s report. It continues, “The Committee unanimously finds that, under the Faculty Handbook, Respondents lack the authority to impose involuntary administrative leave. There is nothing in the Faculty Handbook called ‘administrative leave’ and no section that directly addresses leave while an investigation proceeds.”
“On March 6, 2012, you met with Linda Foulsham and Drs. Folts and Specht (Dean Calamai’s designee) to discuss complaints made by student athletes in your class. At that time, you were informed of the complaints and advised not to engage in retaliation against the students. Ms. Foulsham offered to schedule a meeting with you and the students to discuss concerns. During your next class meeting, you showed a documentary film on the pornography industry,” read a letter to Price from ASU Provost Lori Gonzalez which Price posted to the “Academic Freedom and Due Process at Appstate” Facebook page on April 30.
Initial student complaints stemmed from a T-shirt Price wore to class on March 2 indicating her intentions to participate in the “No Equal? No More!” silent protest that came in the wake of two separate events that happened in 2011 regarding women allegedly being sexually assaulted by student-athletes and their alleged attackers being let back on campus.
The committee did, however, find that Price used “extremely poor judgment regarding the March 7 class” when she showed the documentary The Price of Pleasure to her class. The film — which criticizes the pornography industry — that Price showed to the class was property of ASU. She accessed it from the university library.
Price said yesterday that Chancellor Kenneth Peacock will have 30 days to consider the committee’s report.
To view the full report, click here.